Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

World travelers.

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

My Dad read these verses from Isaiah chapter 43 to me in our kitchen at 1:30 A.M. I was bouncing Judah on my hip, he was not happy at being woken in the middle of his night and I was feeling a little stressed at the thought of the day that lay ahead of me. To be honest, I don’t really remember hearing all of the verses that my Dad read out, I was thinking about passports, tickets and most heavy on my mind was immigration and that horrible thought; what if we, as a family, had to be apart for even longer. I could hardly bear that train of thought that had come crashing into my mind more than once.

“I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”…. I heard those words, loud and clear. Not as read from my dear Dad who was just as worried as me for the day ahead but from my Heavenly Father who had walked this whole road with me and who had promised to go before me and make those crooked places straight. I breathed deep. “The God of Angel Armies is always by my side.”

At 3:30 A.M. I was standing at the check-in desk at Dublin airport, still juggling Judah on my hip, and talking to a burly Irish man about my journey ahead. He gave me no hope. My layover in Amsterdam was according to him, “much too tight.” I didn’t have a bulkhead seat and who would book me such tickets? I wavered. I will put my hope in God. Psalm 42:5

My Mum, Dad and I hovered around the entrance to security, trying to avoid the inevitable. Saying goodbye is one of the constant hard trials of missionary life. This one was just as hard, if not harder. I knew they were worried for me traveling alone and saying goodbye to a grandbaby not knowing when we will meet again is always heartbreaking. In time, we walked to the door, hugged, said our goodbyes and I was on my own. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

For those who don’t know me so well, it might be a surprise for you to learn, I hate to travel. It doesn’t matter the vehicle, per say, but just everything about all the unknowns. Boats and planes, though, are at the top of my list; they can terrify me if I let my mind roam too much. Normally, I have my dear, logical husband who does his best to calm me and explain to me that it is actually safer to travel on a plane than in a car on any given day….that usually doesn’t help but listening to him just talk (about anything) is a comfort, just knowing he is with me. I was well aware of his absence through every part of the journey and feeling the weight (literally) of my dear sweet 15 month old who looked at me with such trust and love. Another deep breath.

As I stepped onto the first flight I was praying as I walked down the aisle. On all my flights I was most concerned about the person who I would be sitting beside. A busy, middle aged business man was the most terrifying and least “baby friendly” to me. I was row 7 with a window seat. However, when I got there all seats in the row where already filled. There was a misunderstanding and a foreign lady who spoke almost no English had sat in my seat. A lovely air steward came to my rescue and allocated me to a different seat which just happened to be a whole row that was empty, I had no one beside me on either side! Thank you Lord. I sat and relaxed, for this flight, at least. “I have called you by your name, you are mine.” I had felt and experienced the personal love of the Lord all the way home to Ireland (both flights I ended up with no one beside me!). I knew He would take care of me on this journey, too.

I made my connection in Amsterdam with no problems. The lovely Dutch didn’t even have me go through the normal security line but took me to the front of the queue due to a sleeping Judah in the stroller. This long haul flight had me the most nervous.

I had the very back seat on the plane where there were only two seats together. As Judah was still asleep on my shoulder, I stood at the back of the plane, waiting for the person who would sit next to me to come and sit first, and then I would sit by the aisle. The air stewardess and I made small talk as the other passengers boarded. It was a full flight she informed me, there were no empty seats. I prayed again for the person who would sit by me and I profiled all the faces as they walked down the aisle toward the back. Heart dropping when a sweet, “Grandma lady” sat further up the plane, heart racing when a large man with a brief case made his way to the back. The door on the plane closed and I still had no one who had claimed the seat beside me. The lovely air stewardess made her way back, face grinning, to tell me the passenger (a male with a very strange name) had been a “no show”and I had the whole two seats to myself! “I have called you by your name and you are mine.”

These are just two examples of the many ways God intervened on my behalf on the most hard and emotional journeys of my life. This post would be way too long for most if I were to record all the ways God answered the aches of my heart. As I weakened, He gave me strength and when I wavered He was always faithful.

The empty seats on all four of my flights, were not empty at all, Jesus was with me every moment of my journey, He was my constant companion.  I was so aware of His presence with me from beginning to end. My loving Savior interceded on my behalf and gave me peace in the midst of some turbulent hours over unknown territory.

By the time I reached the dreaded immigration line, I was hopeful. Whatever the outcome was to be I was aware that the most important thing about me was not on any of the paperwork I held tightly in my hand, it was that I  belonged to Jesus.  I could rest in the presence of God even when I was uprooted from one end of this world to the other. I wasn’t hanging between countries and citizenships, I was His. The Creator of the Earth knew my name, my every need and He was calling me His own. My heart breathed easy.

The immigration line was longer than I had ever seen before. Judah was ready to be back doing baby things again and not so into being an international traveler. As we weaved slowly up the line I scanned the faces of each of the immigration officers that would read through my paperwork and make a decision on whether I would be holding my little girl and her Papa Daddy in my arms that day. I prayed that God would direct me to the right person. Suddenly, my shoulder was being tapped and an immigration officer had made his way to me through the crowd of foreign faces and he asked me to follow him. As I grabbed my bag, my baby, my papers and my stroller I hoped this was a good thing. He led me from the “visitors” line and took me over to the U.S. Citizens line, he told me it would be quicker and shorter. There were only 6 people in front of me and the officer I would be dealing with at the booth was a lady with a smiley face. Deep breath. “You are mine.” Whatever the outcome, nothing she could stamp on my passport would define me, I was His.

I stood up to the glass and handed over my paperwork, juggling Judah again on my hip. We small-talked as she processed and I knew many people were praying around the world for this moment. “Do not be afraid for I am with you.” I was aware of the fact my heart was not racing as I expected, I had peace and hope.

She finished entering her data, taking my finger prints, then my picture and she was about to hand over my papers again, when something popped up on her screen. She said, “Oh, I see you were just here in America and now you are coming back?”

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”

Without giving my life story (as my husband had reminded me on every phone call we had had about this moment) I briefly shared of the events of this summer and our plan to be together this month as a family before returning to the Philippines. She smiled, handed me my paperwork and said, “Welcome Home.”

“For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel your Saviour.”

I was home. Home to a land that is not my own and yet where I belong today. Tomorrow I may have a different home in another land but when that time comes, it will be a whole new story.

Today I rejoice to be the daughter of the King of Kings. He has called me by my name and I am His!

And then this:

After struggling to get my cases, stroller and all the rest together at the baggage claim, all the difficulties were forgotten when I rounded the corner to see a little girl in a new pink sweater straining to see if her Mama was coming home today. Those eyes lighting up and that great big hug made all the travel and anxious moments worth it all. “Mama I am so happy now because you came back for me.” My heart broke, tears fell and we were together again. Thank you Lord.

To all of you dear friends who have followed along with the ups and downs of these past few weeks and prayed for us; “Thank you.” Thank you for your love and your concern for us as a family and for bringing us before the Throne Of Grace. God has answered so many prayers and I am so humbled to have experienced the Lord in such personal and loving ways. God is so good.

As many of you know little Izzy had an infection while I was gone but she was doing so much better by the time I came home. Her Papa took such great care of his little girl. Tomorrow we are heading away for a little holiday to enjoy some special family time before we head back to the Philippines, God willing, next month. Izzy’s next doctors appointment is on  October 17th when she will have a few tests to see how her bladder is functioning since her surgery. We continue to leave all the details of these outcomes with the Lord and in the meantime we are just loving being together. We smile as we sit around the table eating pancakes with peanut butter and syrup, smile as we sing together in the car and smile real big at some of the things our little girl is coming out with these days. We may need to start compiling a list of what we are now calling “Izzy-isms.” Today in the car it was this; “Mama, I don’t want to be a sister anymore, I am a cockroach now because that is much more gross.” 🙂 Ok, honey and I smile that I am right here getting to see her little nose scrunch up as she says, “cockroach” and how her little brother leans over and laughs at her even though he has no idea what she just said.

Being together is a beautiful thing, I don’t want to forget it.
Living each day in the presence of Jesus makes every moment sacred.
I am His.

With much love to you all,
Philippa for us all!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

And lots of photos!

Reunion at the airport! (After the tears). 
They couldn’t get close enough the whole way home. 
This little man was so happy to be down on the ground and playing in the dirt. 
Normal everyday moments…treasured. 
Izzy and Mama got a little time together. 🙂 
Papa and Izzy got some good bonding time while Mama and Judah were gone. 
This is what we love. Our family together. 🙂
My Mama heart is full again. So thankful for these two little lives of joy.
She has hugged me so much since I have come home, telling me how happy she is! 🙂 Soaking it up. 

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